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MY MERCEDES IS BIGGER THAN YOURS

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MY MERCEDES IS BIGGER THAN YOURS

I am borrowing the title of a 1975 book by Nkem Nwankwo to express my thoughts today. Published by Heinemann African Writers Series, it is the story of postcolonial Nigerian society, and the social climbing that attended it. As a young schoolboy, one grew up on the staple of such writings.

In Nigeria, when one new administration comes, it abandons most, if not all the projects its predecessors had been doing. The billions of naira or dollars, legitimate and padded, that had been spent on such projects do not matter. It is a question of aggrandizement, of competition, of not wanting to walk in anyone’s shadows. My Mercedes is Bigger than Yours, they struggle to tell one another. Therefore, abandoned and uncompleted projects dot the entire national landscape.

But not Muhammadu Buhari. This is one President that came to his assignment with clear objectives. It is our country, and the projects are for the land, and for the people. Therefore, all worthy projects were continued with gusto. Some are already completed and serving Nigerians, and many others in different stages of completion.

Water projects. Power. Roads. Schools. Hospitals, and many others, in different stages of abandonment, line the length and breadth of the country, simply because the governments that conceived and started them were not able to complete. When the successors came, they wanted to ‘do their own thing,’ as if it’s a personal estate. And the country hemorrhages, suffers, and is almost asphyxiated.

But one mark the President Buhari administration is making is its ability and determination to continue and complete inherited projects, some dating back several decades. It is not about pride, not ego, not what I want, but about what is good for the country.

The Bonny-Bodo road in Rivers State was conceived and inaugurated 47 years ago. Governments came and went, and the road, envisaged to link Bonny Island with the rest of the state, never saw the light of day. It remained just a dream. And at times, dreams die first, before the dreamer. For now, the only way to access Bonny, where our cash cow, the Nigeria Natural Liquefied Gas company is located, is by water and air, with all the attendant dangers and perils.

To build a road into Bonny would cost billions upon billions of naira. If any government got serious about such project, wouldn’t it affect the volume of cash the officials would salt away from the kitty? Till Buhari came. And he is doing what Napoleon couldn’t do. The Bonny-Bodo road, with many bridges, was awarded for N120 billion , and in collaboration with NLNG, the work began in 2017. It promises to be one of the legacy projects of the administration.

We can never say too much about the Second Niger Bridge. The existing one was built in 1965, and had become totally inadequate to serve as the artery between the southern and other parts of the country. When it is festive season like Christmas, come and see how people suffer on the bridge, spending hours on end, sometimes days.

The bridge became an object of fake political promises, particularly in the 16 years of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). It was like a pie in the sky, which they kept building with their mouths. Whenever elections approached, they would go to the site with hoes, cutlasses and wheelbarrows, pretending to dig the ground, all to win votes. Whenever the polls were completed, and they had swindled the people of their votes, they disappeared. Till the next election.

And they claimed to have spent billions upon billions of naira on the project. Yet, it remained at the blueprint level. Olusegun Obasanjo launched it with much fanfare. That was where it ended. Umaru Yar’Adua did not seem to touch it, maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Goodluck Jonathan said his middle name was Ebele, making him an indigene of the South East, where the bridge was situated. He said what would he say he did for his people, if he couldn’t build the bridge. He spent six years in office, and all he left were the ubiquitous hoes, cutlasses and wheelbarrows.

Enter Muhammadu Buhari. Without fanfare, without flourish, he set to work. The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) was set up in 2018 to fast-track completion of critical infrastructural projects. And at the last count, the Second Niger Bridge was 48% completed, with the sights firmly set on the first quarter of 2022 as completion time. The things we couldn’t accomplish when we were swimming in petro-dollars, we are now daring and making steady progress on, at a season of scarcity. That is what you get when the Captain of a ship has only come to serve, not to feather his own nest.

The Mambila Hydro Power project was conceived in 1972. How many governments, both military and civilian have we had since then? How many billions upon billions of dollars have we earned from oil since then? But Mambila remained a dream, pipe dream. Till a man came from Daura, and seriousness is now being shown. Finally, Mambila Power project is appearing doable.

The country’s biggest power plant will produce approximately 3,050 MW of electricity, and estimated to cost $5.8 billion. Chinese Export-Import Bank will provide 85 percent of the funding, while Nigeria brings the remaining 15 %. Completion time is 2030, long after Buhari would have left power. Yet, the man is planning and working for the future of Nigerians. The project would generate at least 50,000 jobs.

The Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited was started in 1979, and envisaged to launch Nigeria into the steel development realm in a few years. But 41 years later, it remains mere dream, with billions of dollars gone down the drain. The steel mill became a cesspool of corruption for many decades. Each government came, made false promises, pumped dollars and more dollars into the sinking hole, officials pocketed the rest, yet the steel mill, built on 24,000 hectares of land remains uncompleted. The Buhari administration took up the gauntlet. Last year, the President held talks with the original builders of the mill in Russia, and the project is set to roar to life before 2023. And Buhari’s name would remain indelible in the annals of the country, without the man setting out to achieve anything personal.

Some Federal Secretariat projects were awarded in 2012. They included those of Anambra, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Osun, and Zamfara states. The projects had long been abandoned, due to lack of proper funding. Last week, a memo was brought to the Federal Executive Council meeting by Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola, seeking a review and variation of the contract sums, and it was approved. That is Buhari for you. Even development round the country is what he seeks. That is why inherited projects continue, and are being completed.

Rail projects. Nigeria had a master plan since days of military rule, which Obasanjo kept faith with, and Yar’Adua and Jonathan continued. But not much in terms of practical achievements. In consonance with his commitment to continuity, Buhari first completed the Abuja-Kaduna rail project, which has been running since 2016. The Itakpe-Warri project, started by Ibrahim Babangida in 1987, was not completed till 34 years later. By Buhari. You now have Lagos-Ibadan rail about being inaugurated, while Ibadan-Kano takes off soon. What manner of man is this Buhari, completing inherited projects, and starting new ones, despite lower earnings than we ever had?

Road projects. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway could not be completed in 16 years of PDP. Not to talk of Enugu-Onitsha, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Lagos-Ore-Benin, and many others. Today, you have at least a Federal road project going on in every state of the country, and all are to be completed in the life of this administration.

AKK gas pipeline. Humongous. The cost is $2.8 billion. It had been on the drawing board for many years, long before Buhari. A couple of weeks back, the President flagged off the project, estimated to be completed in two years. What manner of man is this Buhari, I ask again. You don’t dare huge projects like these, if your intention is to steal. You simply dip your hands in the cookie jar, and pop it into your mouth.

The Loko-Oweto Bridge. How can one ever forget? Began since 2011, it will link Benue and Nasarawa States, and open up the North Central to other parts of the country. The economic gains are limitless. The bridge is now 95% completed. By Buhari.

Zik, oh Great Zik. An illustrious son of Africa. First Nigerian President and Owelle of Onitsha. A mausoleum was started in 1996 as a monument in his memory. It is to tell everyone: the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe was buried here! Governments came, governments went, but the mausoleum was uncompleted, even abandoned. Till the advent of the man from Daura. He not only funded and completed the project, he personally inaugurated it in early 2019.

What shall we say of the East-West road, airport projects, and many others, all inherited and set to be completed. President Buhari came with Executive Order 7 (the Companies Income Tax Road Infrastructural Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme). It is to attract private financing for road construction across Nigeria. Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway is being rebuilt in Lagos with concrete under this scheme, 40 years after the road was initially built.

Despite all these, you hear the funny question from some people, who never see or hear good. What has Buhari done? What has he achieved in the past five years? Such questions bring this passage of Scripture to my mind, the very words of Jesus Himself: “Though seeing they do not see, though hearing they do not hear or understand.”(Matthew 13:13). If a man chooses to be willfully blind, he will never see. If he decides to be willfully deaf, he will never hear, even if you noise ii into his ears.

Some other funny people say: what has Buhari started? He has only been completing projects started by other people. My Mercedes is bigger than yours people. Head you lose, tail you lose. You never can satisfy them. You abandon projects of your predecessors, they grumble. You complete them, they murmur.

For the sake of argument, which I don’t think is really necessary, let’s give them just a sample of projects started and completed by Buhari.

The 17-story Local Content House was inaugurated in Yenagoa a fortnight ago. It is the tallest Federal Government structure in both the South-South and South East regions put together. It was started in late 2015, now completed. An ultra-modern cancer centre was built and commissioned at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH. Diagnostic centers, costing billions of dollars, built and commissioned in Kano and Umuahia. Captive electricity projects in Lagos, Kano and Ariana markets. Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road project under reconstruction. Rail Wagon Assembly Plant In Kajola, Ogun State. Many other projects that space would not permit one to number here. But the chronicle would come. The compendium of works done by a highly focused administration would come, despite all the distractions caused by insecurity and endless wailing. Today is not yet the day.

How big is your Mercedes? It does not matter to Buhari. Your Mercedes could be bigger than his own. He does not bother. Service to Nigeria is all that counts.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TODAY’S MARRIAGE; WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M IN SUCH CONDITION AS A BELIEVER?

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TODAY’S MARRIAGE; WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M IN SUCH CONDITION AS A BELIEVER?

Domestic violence is a violence or other abuse in a marriage.
Domestic violence could involve any body but I’m looking at it in a family setting between a man and his wife.

Domestic violence includes

  • Physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religion reproductive and sexual abuse.

Many people are going through a lot in marriages today, some Christan homes inclusive. This has caused a lot of harms in homes, churches and the society at large. So many women have lost their lives in the process,men inclusive but women are mostly at the receiving end. And they endure mostly even to the point of loosing their lives. This they do because of:

  1. The love they have for their spouse
  2. Because of their children
  3. What the society will say about them
  4. Because of their faith and religion.

Please when beating and sexual molestation becomes the case in your home, there’s need for separation.

Now in as much as the Bible frowns at divorce, I don’t think it’ll be reasonable for one to remain in an abusive marriage where his/her life is a stake. The same children you think about will still be maltreated, neglected and will be forced to face horrible situations the moment you are gone. The same society you are thinking of what they will say will still blame you for not speaking out on time. Your making heaven is even very slim because I don’t think your heart is clean in that condition. Your bad thoughts, unforgiveness and bitterness is enough to send you to hell. And instead of you to commit murder, I think you should separate if that’s the only option left.

Many women are going through alot. When a domestic violence involves life threatening abuses, there’s need for you to seek for help.

Many women have died in this process. Pls being born again doesn’t mean your brain should be suspended. Yes divorce is a sin but you shouldn’t die either because you are married. You are being asked to keep praying often times, yes but you could do that also while away. Many women are dying silently. Women please speak out in such conditions, don’t keep quiet. Make sure the problem is not from you. Make sure you are not the cause of it.

I have seen a woman beating blue black by her husband. Not once not twice. Infact the man always use cane,belt etc on her. And she’s asked to keep praying. What if she die one day? What if she couldn’t take it any longer and tries to defend herself and kill her partner in the process, what will be her lot?

Women should take the necessary steps the moment they see that things are getting out of hand.

Try to see how you could save the situation by involving your spiritual leaders, your both families,the people your partner respects so much and if there’s no changes please take a break while you pray and take the necessary steps to save your marriage.

Pls note that your being away is for the mean time. Even while away you are to remain and keep your body. It’s not a time to go about messing up. If you do that you are commenting sin. You are to maintain sexual purity. Even when your partner is doing otherwise. The only time remarriage is possible is when one partner is dead. See Romans 7:2,1cor.7:39.

Neighbors should as well look out for their fellow women/men. Please speak out for them. Some of them are in a tight corner and can’t help themselves.

Stay tuned for the next post on this same topic!

Say no to domestic violence.

What’s your take on this? Share your opinion.
Will you allow your daughter, sister, brother,son go through domestic violence?
What will you have them do;the abused?

By Chika Helen Nwabueze’

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LEKKI SHOOTINGS: SANWO-OLU HAS LOST CREDIBILITY, SAYS FSD

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LEKKI SHOOTINGS: SANWO-OLU HAS LOST CREDIBILITY, SAYS FSD

By Oladimeji Ramon

A group, the Federal Social Democrats, says the credibility and integrity of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have been diminished by the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20.

According to the group, the Lekki incident has eroded the admiration that Sanwo-Olu won with his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group, in statement on Sunday signed on its behalf by Olutola Mobolurin, also condemned the harassment of #EndSARS protest leaders through the freezing of their bank accounts and stopping them from travelling outside the country.

The FSD’s statement was titled, ‘Statement by the Federal Social Democrats On the #EndSARS Movement and Violence in the Wake of Lekki Shootings.’

The group said, “Governor Sanwo-Olu, who before now has been credited with responsible and energetic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has by this one act lost his credibility and integrity for many. He has a big task in regaining the confidence of the public and youths; his credibility gap surrounding what happened at the Lekki Toll Plaza is not helped by the insensitive bluster of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the governor’s residence stating that those who were injured and presumably those who died had questions to answer.”

Though the group condemned the destruction of public assets and looting that trailed the shootings at the Lekki tollgate, it said the mayhem pointed to the alienation of a large number of youths from society by government.

It said, “The so-called hoodlums are the youths that have been denied any stake in society by the self-dealing and state capture that have characterised governance over the last 30 years. Millions of our youths have been uneducated, unemployable and with no meaningful social safety net. Even for the millions who are educated and skilled, long-term unemployment has been their experience in the Nigerian prebendal political economy that serves primarily the interests of public office holders and their cronies.

“Some of the ‘hoodlums’ responsible for the trashing of Lagos are the youths and ‘the toughies’ that many politicians have over the years employed to subvert the democratic process through intimidation of voters and perpetration of violence during elections.”

The group said the organisers of the #EndSARS protests deserved commendation for the resourcefulness, transparency and accountability which they demonstrated.

The group condemned “the growing reports of compilation of names of the assumed leaders and facilitators of the protests for government reprisals.”

It said, “Those that are being targeted are reportedly being prevented from travelling outside Nigeria while accounts of some have been frozen. This is hardly the hallmark of a democratic government that is interested in dialoguing with the youths or learning positive lessons from the #EndSARS protests. It is also a violation of the spirit of government’s acceptance of the 5 for 5 agenda. The President should stop all these acts of witch-hunt.”

The FSD solicited support for the Lagos State Government to rebuild and replace the vandalised public assets.

  • PunchNg

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APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED

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APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED

• Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had been expected to be confirmed as leader on Monday

By Richard Partington

The race to find a new leader of the World Trade Organization has been thrown into renewed uncertainty after the cancellation of a key appointment meeting following the US presidential election.

The Geneva-based WTO, which acts as an international arbiter for trading disputes, said it had put off a meeting scheduled for Monday that had been called to appoint Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its next director general.

Donald Trump’s administration opposed her selection in one of its final acts before the US election, despite the former Nigerian finance minister securing the overwhelming backing of the WTO’s 164 members.

The special meeting of the trade body’s general council had been convened to take a formal decision on the appointment. Officials had been set to put forward Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract a majority, after most countries expressed a preference for her over South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.

Okonjo-Iweala had moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade watchdog after securing backing from the EU, China, Japan and Australia. Liam Fox, the leading Brexiter and former international trade secretary, had run as the UK government’s preferred candidate but failed to win enough support from other countries to reach the last two in the process.

Trade experts said Joe Biden defeating Trump in last week’s election may have led to countries calling for a delay in the WTO leadership race, with the aim of securing the Biden White House’s backing for Okonjo-Iweala after he takes charge in January.

The delay in selecting a new WTO director general comes at a fragile moment for the world economy amid the second wave of Covid-19, and after years of criticism of the WTO and calls for reform from Trump.

The WTO said the meeting would be postponed until further notice, during which time the organisation would continue undertaking consultations with delegations from countries around the world to pick a new leader.

It said in a statement: “For reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November.”

  • TheGuardian

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

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